In this article, we engage in a debate that first took place in France ten years ago, but that has revived today. This debate concerns the question of whether to introduce ethnic categories in statistical surveys in France. There is strong opposition between those who argue for statistical categories to measure ethnic or racial populations as part of an effort to fight against discrimination, and those who argue against such statistics. The latter, including the authors of the present article, discuss the impossibility of building such categories, their inadequacies, and the political and social consequences they could have because of the way they represent society. They also argue that there are better, more efficient ways to measure discrimination and to fight against it. After describing the history of this debate, the authors present the different positions and explore the larger implications of the debate for French public life.
The Illusion of "Ethnic Statistics"
Alain Blum and France Guérin-Pace
une géographie à inventer
This article argues that the way French society comprehends its territory is not only an aspect of a more general identity crisis, but also an acting component of an overall political model. France can be characterized as a "state-fatigued" society. Centralism has had an important spatial consequence: an alliance of the nation-state and provincial "notables" against the city. The major cities, especially Paris, produce for the rest of the country but continue to be denied effective local and regional political power. In this context, the peculiar tradition of aménagement du territoire can be analyzed as a discourse based on the myth of a demiurge, the state, which would be the only legitimate actor able to restore France's grandeur by reconquering the deprived parts of its territory. Correlative public polices target moral compensation for a supposed injustice: a partial reimbursement of the debt France once contracted by incorporating the provinces into the national territory. After reviewing disappointing recent changes in the geographical architecture of political power, the article makes some proposals. They are based on the dual framework that an empowerment of relevant spatial units will be necessary and that only a profound and massive debate involving ordinary citizens can overcome the current institutional gridlock.
For decades, the influential Franco-American scholar Stanley Hoffmann saw his role at Harvard as “explainer and defender of France.” * 1 France was an indispensable country—from culture to architecture, from education to bureaucracy. Analyzing the
The Founding of the United Nations and the Limits of Colonial Reform
Jessica Lynne Pearson
“The goal of French colonization lies somewhere between the internationalization of the Colonies and independence, two solutions which offer neither security for newly emancipated States, nor dignity for their inhabitants.” Telegram from M. de
Southern Wine Producers Respond to Competition from the Algerian Wine Industry in the Early Third Republic
It is perhaps common knowledge that French grapevines are not French or, rather, not entirely French. * Thanks to the malevolent ways of an uninvited immigrant, France’s vines were largely destroyed in the second half of the nineteenth century
Historicizing the Gallic Singularity
Jean Elisabeth Pedersen
This interdisciplinary special issue of French Politics, Culture & Society presents five articles by historians and literary critics with a common interest in one particular aspect of what scholars across a range of fields have identified
During my ethnographic research in Morocco in the spring of 2018, when I explained that I was researching the role of French and French degrees in present-day Morocco, my Moroccan interlocutors would occasionally answer that I was working on an
Un exemple d’apolitisme militant ?
le chemin de la « Vérité », et la contrainte dogmatique de ne contester ni récuser le système en place par un investissement « traditionnel » dans le champ politique. En d’autres termes, comment représenter une force de changement social en France
“Screening France” in America takes several forms: American films that take place in France or use French people as their central characters, French films released in the US, and American remakes of French films. Since American remakes of French films usually become full-fledged American movies, and French films are often re-edited before being shown on American screens, all forms tend to display the same characteristics, often determined by the American cinematic taste for romance, a clear separation between good and evil, and a preferably happy ending that will gather all the loose ends. Though such characteristics may satisfy moviegoers’ instinctive longings for romance, happiness and clear-cut morals, this taste was reinforced and legitimized during the Production Code and studio system era (from the 1930s through the 1950s).
Old Paradigms, Current Tendencies, New Directions
Over the past three decades modern French history has undergone important changes, introducing new methodologies and taking up new questions. Two directions are especially promising. Since the “global turn” of the 1990s, many French historians have shifted their focus outside of the hexagon to examine France in a global and transnational context. Their work has explored the contradictions of France's democratic heritage and exclusionary practices evident in the history of colonialism, immigration, and ethno-racial exclusion. A second body of research has addressed the gender dimensions of French colonialism and has examined how colonialism deployed sexuality and sexual difference in maintaining colonial rule. Both strands of research have demonstrated how France's engagement beyond the hexagon has shaped French institutions and social life.